I am a mentor and I am much richer because of it. For as long as I can remember, someone has mentored me, or “took up time with me,” as my great-aunt called it. We call it “mentoring” nowadays but it simply means investing love, wisdom, patience, and time with others. I am of the mindset that mentoring is almost as important as food, breathing, water, exercise, and sending notes (and you know how I love mushy notes).
I got a new publisher last fall and along with it came Clarissa Joi. Clarissa is beautiful and a single parent. Her ministry is with single moms and she discerns what they need and then sets out to provide it. We have lunch often and though I’m usually late or lost, I get to hear her dreams and she shares mine. She calls me Auntie and I treasure being part of her life and work.
My first mentor, Opal, lived next door. She was the only girl in a family of boys, so she showed me how young ladies behave and take care of themselves. When she went off to Lane College, she wrote me letters. I can’t tell you how important getting mail is for 10- year-olds but Poet Maya Angelou can.
She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Dr. Angelou was right—I don’t remember a thing Opal said in those letters more than 50 years ago, but I still smile when I remember how they made me feel.
Mentoring is a big deal and though things are drastically different, the thoughts and intent behind it are the same. Taking time to share insights, thoughts, tough questions, encouragement, opening doors—whatever, however, whenever, wherever it gets to manifest itself, it’s important.
I have mentees and mentors of all ages and stages and I love it when I get to teach and learn from them. They believe in me and they tell me so. They bask in my glory and agonize with me in defeat. I get to impart and benefit from their/our bought lessons—you know — the ones we had to personally experience and pay for.
My older mentors help me understand the power of prayer, patience, laughter, and listening, and they show me unwritten rules like when and how to keep quiet. Mentoring may not be for everyone but we can all stand to learn from and invest in each other. Think on this:
First, according to New England Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick, “Great leaders learn from great leaders.” It’s true. Study greatness but learn from the best because everything you need to know won’t be in a book.
On the other hand, Mrs. Susie Ella Taylor Ashworth, one of the professional African American women featured in The Women of Haywood: Their Lessons, Our Legacy, said “You can learn something from almost anyone—even if it’s nothing more than how to make a better biscuit.” She was on the money, too.
Growing up, our other neighbor, James Franklin Thomas Jefferson Currie, or Jim Frank, as he was affectionately called, told tall tales, loved lots of fast women and drank hard liquor, in that order. He would proudly not be held up as a role model or mentor, yet his wisdom: “God gave you two ears and one mouth–listen twice as much as you talk” speaks to me daily.
Whether you share wise words like Jim Frank or sacred time building relationships—or both—trust me, mentoring is an excellent way to make A/THE difference.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.